Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Conversation With Celeste

I'm way behind on blogging, but between work and the cold that will not die I just haven't had the will to get back into the blogging habit. Still somethings cannot be allowed to be forgotten, such as ...

I get home to find Celeste chewing on the foot of one of a toy rabbit. She explains to me, rather excitedly, "Celeste chewing on Honey Bunny's foot. Celeste doing a number on Honey Bunny's foot."

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Unclear on the Concept

While we were in Louisiana for Christmas (and I really need to finish that recap), Celeste picked up a copy of Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus at the library. Since we've been back, she's checked it out from our library several times and when she sees pigeons (Columba livia), she mentions them wanting to drive buses.

However, Celeste seems to miss the point of the book. By page 3, when the pigeon first says "Hey, can I drive the bus?" Celeste enthusiastically gives her consent. If the book played out from there, by page 6, there would be a horrible crash and burnt feathers amidst the carnage.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

8 Minutes on Tuesday

Celeste didn't nap, but Quinn slept well for nearly two hours. When she woke up, we decided to make a short film demonstrating Quinn's new consonants and her rapidly increasing scooting skillz. Celeste provides commentary, directorial suggestions, and a aside into the secret lives of buses. (YouTube limits uploads to 100 MB, so this one is hosted through Google Video.)

Monday, January 15, 2007

Celeste Says —

Talking about a piece that had been forced into a puzzle: "That chicken uncomfortable."

Most nights when the light is turned off after her bedtime stories: "It dark."

One night when I say "It's dark" because she didn't: "Well, turn on the light."

When trying to make sense of something: "That feels right." or "That sounds right." or "That how that goes."

When she's not sure of the answer: "Uh-huh."

When I ask her what time it is: "Uh-huh. Eye. Eee." (The digital clock read 2:13 p.m.)

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Date Night ...

Since Celeste was born, I think Evelin and I have managed to get out by ourselves maybe five or six times, usually when one or more of the grand'rents are around (or we're around them). Saturday, however, one of Evelin's friends said thank you for some help with her résumé by watching the girls.

We set it up so both of the girls would be in bed by the time we were to leave, and for the most part it worked. Celeste took her first nap in a week, but still went down a bit past 7:00 p.m. and konked out minutes before we were due to leave. Quinn woke up for some additional nursing as we were getting ready, but we still made it out about the time we'd hoped to.

We figured we had three or so hours before Quinn might wake again, so we weren't planning to run far away, but we did want to try something different. It was Restaurant Week, and we thought about looking for somewhere interesting, but I also checked Upromise to see if we could get a kick-in to the girls' college funds. Looking over the options, I'd suggested Tapatinis to Evelin and she was willing to give it a try.

I hope I wouldn't pick some place to eat just because of a promised 8% contribution to a 529 plan, but that was one of Tapatinis's selling points. Plus it is in Barracks Row, which outside of the usual parts of the region we frequent and it's supposed to be interesting and up-and-coming — <irony>all important to maintaining any shred of indie-hipster cred I might still have.</irony>

It was a little past 8:00 p.m. when we got to Southeast and ended up parking under I-395, near the Navy Yard, with no problems. Despite it being early, I thought it'd be more crowded, maybe not Adams Morgan crowded, but more than it was. Despite not having reservations, we were able to get a table at Tapatinis right away; the place was busy, but not packed ... although it might have been getting fuller as the night went on. It was a bit loud — a mix of old and new disco — but not so much so that we couldn't talk.

As the name implies, Tapatinis is tapas (albeit not really of the traditional sort) and martinis (traditional and otherwise). I had a "classic gin" martini and it was decent; Evelin had a margarita martini, which we're pretty sure was just a margarita mixed/chilled in a cocktail shaker and stirred up. The food was nice, for the most part. The hummos on the sampler platter was a little off (something the women at the table next to us commented on too — they were watching our expressions as we tried it), but the baba ganoush was good as was the pita. I liked the bruschetta caprese and Evelin enjoyed her peppered beef and asparagus. The olives in both my martini and the dishes, were basic canned olives — that was probably the most disappointing thing for me.

After dinner we walked up 8th Street toward Eastern Market and ended up getting coffee and doughnuts at Dunkin' Donuts* before heading home to find that Quinn had woken up about 10 minutes earlier. She was quietly (and sleepily) trying to figure out who this person was who was holding her when we walked in the door.

*Evelin noted a while ago that the music for the "America Runs on Dunkin'" campaign sounded like They Might Be Giants and we finally googled it to find that, yep, she was right. "Lefty Loosey" [Google Video] is a really fun little tune.

Sunday, January 07, 2007



Quinn's chickenpox seems to be progressing well. She's not exactly happy, but not too irritable, and she doesn't mind when I call her Spot. On Saturday, it was 73°F and we went to the National Arboretum. We figured an out-of-doors location like that would help minimize the chance of Quinn spreading the pox to others, but it was quite crowded — especially for early January. We found ourselves having to warn away little kids and families on several occasions.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A Pox on Your House

They don't give you fancy quarantine signs these days, but we do have an official diagnosis: Quinn has chickenpox. We noticed a little something on her chin last night and this morning Evelin took off Quinn's pyjamas to find a bunch of red spots with little blisters inside of them. Evelin and I both had this pox as kids; Celeste has had the vaccine; Quinn's just the lucky one ...

We're not sure where she got it; the doctor said it could have been from some random person on the airplane or in the airport or from someone while we were in Louisiana. But she wasn't contagious herself until this weekend ... and we have another week or two before she's in the clear.

And the fun part for Quinn, since she's still under 12 months, she'll still have to get the vaccine. This early of an exposure isn't considered effective in ensuring immunity into later life.

UPDATE: Evelin corrected me: We have preliminary diagnosis of chickenpox (Varicella simplex). If the pox spots continue to increase/spread for the next day or two — and as of this morning it looks like they are — then we get an official diagnosis.

Of course, even without an official diagnosis, I did get one humorous misunderstanding of what Quinn has. I e-mailed by French translator/proofreader about the issue we have in production and mentioned that I was out of the office that afternoon because one of my girls has chickenpox, putting the word la varicelle. This morning I got an e-mail from her: "I am glad you had a good diagnosis for your little daughter and I guess an adequate treatment for smallpox." La variole is close to la varicelle, but I imagine the doctor would have been more concerned ...

And thinking of the doctor, he told Evelin that because of the chickenpox vaccine most of the people currently in med school (and more than a few now in practice) would not recognize a case of chickenpox because they'd never seen an infection before. This Evelin and me to start wondering if we should contact some of the local medical schools to see if they'd like to help fund Quinn's college fund in return for letting her model the disease to students ...

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Farewell to Ford

Back during the 1976 presidential campaign, I was the only kid in my 2nd Grade class who knew that Bob Dole was Jerry Ford's running mate. I kind of remember thinking that Dole was the guy responsible for the bananas. I also remember having a Ford–Dole badge, but I don't recall where I picked it up.

On Sunday, Evelin, the girls and I went down to The Mall and almost ended up in the line for the viewing of President Ford in the Capitol building. We were actually headed to the U.S. Botanic Garden, but it turned out to be closed, so we went to Air & Space instead. The line was only about an hour, and we toyed with the idea of paying our respects, but decided that we probably only had an hour before the girls would need snacks and to head home for a nap, so waiting in line would be a bad way to pass the time.

Today, on my way home to watch the girls for the afternoon, I ended up getting caught by a motorcade leaving Ford's funeral. I spent a half-hour or so stopped on the Southeast/Southwest Freeway waiting for the post-funeral motorcade to pass. Most of the time was just sitting there with no-one coming up from Maine Ave. with the occasional police car/motorcycle passing. Finally, "normal" traffic was flowing next to me, but my lanes stayed blocked for another five or ten minutes for some reason known only to the police who were holding us up.

Normally, I might have been more interested in who was passing, but I was making Evelin late for work, so I was getting quite annoyed. Of course, once the blockade ended and I was able to get on my way, I ended up getting caught by a train when I was just a mile or two away from home ...

Monday, January 01, 2007

New Year's Traditions

Last night, Evelin and I toyed with the idea of doing another GMT New Year's Eve, but 7:00 p.m. EST was in the middle of bath and bedtime, so we ended up missing the celebration. Instead, we had a quiet night watching Cars (I fell asleep about halfway through), and we were in bed in time for Newfoundland Standard Time New Year. Quinn did wake Evelin for EST New Year, but it was a fairly tame celebration.

New Year's Day I spent most of the morning in the kitchen. Over the years, I've been looking for new ways to fix our mandatory black-eyed peas and greens for the day. This year, I decided to try a gumbo aux herbes.

My grandmother gave me a copy of Creole Cookery for Christmas and while flipping through it, I noticed the recipe for a gumbo consisting mostly of a mix of seven (or more) greens. On Christmas Day, I mentioned to my grandmother that I was thinking of making a gumbo aux herbes for New Year's, and she said that that was one of her mother's specialties — which pretty much cinched things for me: I had to give it a try.

Saturday, during naps, I ran out and bought the requisite cabbage, collards, spinach, parsley, scallions, mustard greens, lettuce, and kale. Most of the greens were pretty picked over, so I had a little trouble pulling together the three pounds I needed (I ended up using the recipe from The Picayune's Creole Cookbook). On Monday, I started cooking. It took a while to clean the greens (which barely fit in the pot until they started wilting) and then they had to boil for two hours. As it was cooking, Evelin and I both grew increasingly wary, but it actually turned out quite tasty ... with a lot of leftovers. (The black-eyed peas, however, didn't turn out too good; I think it was the bag of beans, not the way I prepped them.)

Gumbo aux Herbes
  • 3 pounds of mixed greens — collards, mustard, turnip, beets, kale, spinach, parsley, lettuce, cabbage, scallions, etc.
  • water or stock
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 toes garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 12 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 112 teaspoon ground allspice
  • salt, pepper, & Tabasco
Clean the greens, cover with water (I added a few bouillon cubes), and boil for two hours. Strain out the greens and reserve the boiling water. Chop the greens fine. Heat the fat and sauté the onion until they start to brown. Add the garlic and sauté until aromatic. Add the greens, three to four quarts of the boiling water, and the spices. Simmer for another hour. Season with salt, pepper, and Tabasco. Serve over rice.

I don't know if I'll be cooking this in 2008 or if I'll go back to my hoppin' johns recipe or try something else, but it was neat to be trying something my great-grandmother used to make.